Editor’s note: It’s Active Aging Week. The theme this year is "Explore the possibilities." Audrey Demmitt explores a "new possibility" and writes about it in a post that is a great testimonial to the ways we can all keep active and explore our "sense of adventure."
"The word recreation really is a very beautiful word. It is defined in the dictionary as the process of giving new life to something, of refreshing something, or restoring something. This something, of course, is the whole person." —Hans Geba
My Adventure at Hull Park
The old adage "use it or lose it" comes to mind when I think about staying active as an adult with vision loss. As I age, I do not want to lose my ability to participate in physical activity or lose my sense of adventure. And I will not let vision loss be an excuse either. I want to continue to play, explore, and try new ways to have fun. We are never too old for fun and adventure! That is why I went to Hull Park in Sandy, Oregon this summer.
My favorite vacations always involve physical activities and outdoor recreation which is an ideal way to get exercise and rejuvenate. Hull Park and Retreat Center provides the perfect opportunity for just such a vacation. It is a place where adults who are blind or visually impaired can come together in a relaxed and beautiful environment to try new activities, meet new people, and challenge themselves to reach new heights…quite literally! Can you see yourself climbing a tree and swinging on a giant swing 40 ft. off the ground? Have you ever thought of rock climbing on a real rock face? These are just a few of the activities offered at Hull Park during the "adventure" retreats.
Something for Everyone
There is something for everyone and all levels of abilities are accommodated at Hull Park. A wide variety of activities are available during the summer sessions. The scenic 22 acres offer a serene setting to walk, fish, stroll the gardens, or visit with friends around a campfire. Amenities include a large indoor pool, hot tub, game room, and outdoor game courts. Healthy and delicious meals are prepared by a chef and served by friendly staff. Highlights of this summer included a local winery tour, horseback riding, and a Sightless Self-Defense workshop. For the more adventurous, there were challenging activities like a day hike in Mt. Hood National Forest, river rafting on the Deschutes River, wind surfing and paddle boarding, and rock climbing. At Hull Park, guests can be as active, independent, and daring as they want to be in a safe and supportive environment.
Outdoor Adventures for All
"Adventures without Limits" (AWL) is an organization that works closely with Hull Park to design custom trips for people with unique needs. They have dedicated more than 20 years to getting people outdoors to experience the amazing natural environment of the Pacific Northwest. Their organization facilitates outdoor adventures for people of all ability levels and empowers individuals through outdoor recreation. The goal is for participants to gain new skills, increase their self-confidence, overcome fears, and work towards reaching individual goals. AWL believes in full inclusion and adventures for all. And they make it happen by providing the equipment, transportation, and other logistics for Hall Park guests.
One of my favorite activities was kayaking on the Tualatin River. The AWL staff did an amazing job assisting our group of adults with varying levels of vision. They took extra steps to adapt the equipment and train us on safety before entering the water. Guests who were totally blind were able to kayak alone by following the music played by the AWL guide from the lead kayak. We had a wonderful day on the river and it was exciting to be able to kayak solo for many of us.
AWL also led us on a rock climbing trip to French’s Dome, a massive basalt rock. We donned the requisite gear and hiked into our destination in the cool forest. Their expert guides taught us what to do and gave us verbal descriptions to help us successfully scale the rocky mound. We experienced the thrill and challenge of conquering the rock that day; many of us going further than we thought we could.
Benefits to Active Leisure and Recreation
There are many benefits associated with this kind of leisure and recreational activity. It provides you the chance to find balance in your life. Well-spent leisure time improves body and brain function. Recreational activities can enhance self-esteem and life satisfaction. Outdoor adventure activities like the ones found at Hull Park give participants with limited physical abilities feelings of success and improved confidence. Yes, play time is beneficial for adults too. And people who are blind and visually impaired can still play!
I am so glad I have discovered Hull Park and had many "first-time" adventures there this summer. It was hard to leave a place where I felt so comfortable as a visually impaired person and where guests are treated so well. Here is what other guests say about their time at Hull Park:
"I love coming because it is magical here."
"The guides and staff who work with us do a great job."
"I can be myself. This is a restful place with lots of good people."
Special moments happen at Hull Park and Retreat Center; memories are made, friendships are forged, and everyone has the chance to test their personal limits. I found new adventures and enjoyed the daily dose of fresh air and exercise in a beautiful setting. I wonder what you may find there. Learn more at Hull Park for the Blind.
"What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are." —George Eastman